Monday, May 16, 2005

The furor over some reported comments from a Chinese admiral concerning the purported advantages of sinking an American aircraft carrier in a hypothetical Taiwan Straits crisis consumed a depressing amount of bandwidth at The American Prospect, Liberals Against Terrorism, Matthew Yglesias, and Brad DeLong’s websites.

Perhaps unfairly, I chalk this up to a desire by liberals to verbally pummel China in order to demonstrate that the Left, contrary to the accusations of the Right, possesses sufficient will to fight, foreign policy gravitas, and national security credibility to lead America.

Happily, the commenters on these posts seemed to take a more measured and skeptical view.

The Left can stand for a foreign policy of resolve and integrity, one that balances moderation and multilateralism with human rights and American interests.

But recycling articles from the Cato Institute that ignore the true nature of the Chinese role in East Asia in order to engage in Rotisserie League fantasy contests between U.S. and PRC armed forces isn’t the way to do it.

In a convergence of economic interests, Taiwan and South Korea are decisively moving away from confrontation with China. Attempts to impose a front-line military containment role on these states--which is behind the bullying insistence that they should beef up their defense spending "or else"--would be disastrously counter-productive and misguided.

Liberal war-gamers should be contemplating the implications of a peaceful drift by Taiwan the the ROK into China's sphere of influence, and the dangerous consequences of a rightward lurch by Japan if the only regional ally it can turn to is the United States.

The Chinese aren't likely to give us an easy out from our China pickle by sinking an aircraft carrier and letting us blow the whole place up.

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